TOBACCO: State Prepares to Pocket $1 Billion Settlement
California has fulfilled all the requirements necessary to begin collecting $1 billion per year from the tobacco industry, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) revealed yesterday. The San Francisco Chronicle reports the state is "already banking on the $1 billion," to be split between the state and local governments. Health groups want to use the state's portion of the settlement for health-related programs, but Gov. Gray Davis has already budgeted the funds for "general purpose spending." A bill by Assemblywoman Helen Thomson (D-Davis) awaiting action by Davis would require the state to spend the money only on health and anti-smoking programs. Paul Knepprath, a lobbyist for the American Lung Association, said, "That would be consistent with the purpose of these lawsuits. It would represent an investment in preventing tobacco use and could provide health care for as many as 7 million Californians who don't have it" (Lucas, 9/23).
San Diego Smokes Philip Morris Offer
Meanwhile, the San Diego Unified School District refused to accept money from Big Tobacco yesterday, rejecting an offer from Philip Morris USA and Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. to foot the bill for the district's Life Skills class, "a three-year curriculum that teaches adolescents the health ramifications of tobacco, drug and alcohol use." Edward Lopez, president of the school board, said, "This offer would create a certain amount of good will toward Philip Morris and I'm not sure we should be the ones generating good will for that company." District officials said they would search for other sources of funding (Magee/Autman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/23).